Ronald Nichols

Obituary of Ronald Lee Nichols

Ron Nichols Eulogy Remembered By Son, Jason Nichols Dedication. Unwavering dedication to family and work. This above all is what I think of most when remembering my father. Whether thinking about the highs or the lows in the arc of our family, my father always put his family and his work ahead of himself. He was a man who led by example, never criticized, never complained, never showed fear, was rarely angry, and was nearly always positive. This dedication ensured that my father would enable his family to not only endure life but to also thrive. The first half of my life my father demonstrated how to live while carrying a tremendous burden. He spent the first 25 years of my life paying off a debt incurred from a failed business. While my father carried this burden I hardly would notice. He never allowed this hardship to affect his positive attitude, or to limit how he provided for his family. My father sacrificed much of himself during this period so his family wouldn’t go without. While we didn’t live the material life we could have without that burden, I would never know that we had less because my father taught me how to not let the outside world impact who you are, or determine your attitude and emotions. His selfless dedication to providing for us also resulted in his family missing out on a lot of time with their father, but I knew that this time away was his way of giving us all he could. I never knew another man who worked harder, who worked countless 80 hour weeks chasing industrial construction jobs across the country, all to guarantee his children were well provided for and could still pursue their dreams. My father’s dedication and his demeanor allowed him to accomplish much during his professional life; first as an electrical engineer and then as a project manager of large industrial construction jobs. He started off his career being entrusted with the task of overseeing the testing and control wiring for nuclear bombs at the Nevada Test Site. A job which required the highest level of trust from the government and the steadiest of nerves. He once told me a story that while he was working next to a bomb a worker dropped a live power line on a metal support connected directly to the bomb, sending sparks flying everywhere. And another story where, him being the last person in to connect the bomb, he would wear a mask and airpak while he crawled 100s of feet in pitch black dark and in a near vacuum through a 3 ft dimeter conduit that ended in a sudden drop of several stories. My father did these things, and then would return home to be a father and husband, as if nothing extraordinary had happened. After being an electrical engineer he unsuccessfully tried his hand at being a business owner; but unfortunately the business failed when the Federal Reserve decided to hike interest rates to 18%. Undeterred, he then moved on to industrial construction management where he helped build American industry. I had the opportunity to work alongside my father once where I witnessed the respect and admiration my father garnered from his co-workers, subordinates, and bosses. I watched as he worked as a project manager to build one of the largest cold steel rolling mills in North America. He coordinated between customer, contractors, and engineering experts to install a machine standing over five stories, consisting of 4 giant metal rollers weighting 100s of tons each, and driven by two decommissioned submarine motors. To succeed at such a colossal endeavor he would manage relationships amongst the competing intentions and egos of all involved to see the job done well. In an industry where nearly every job ends up in litigation upon completion, it was no small feat that my dad would walk away well-liked by all involved. My dad’s even demeanor, while nearly constant, however could never fully be taken for granted as he had an incisive wit and could pen the occasional “strongly worded letter” to get things done. Whether dealing with disagreements between customers and contractors, obtaining building permits from bureaucracies, or leading the fight for his HoA against unscrupulous builders, one would not want to be the focus of my father’s keen intellect pared with his command of the English language. A skill he sharpened with his lifelong dedication to the daily crossword. And a skill that could be fully appreciated when witnessing his jaw dropping ability to crush Wheel of Fortune puzzles with, at times, no letters. If you can guess this puzzle you are on par with my dad: “song lyrics”, _ _ _ NT_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _. A passion of my dad’s that we shared together was a love for golf. My dad got me started at the age of 2 by giving me a shortened 2 iron that I could swing and putt with. My dad taught me so much about how to deal with life by how he behaved on the golf course. His stoic calm to wayward shots and endless optimism regardless of the final score, taught me that the past does not need to determine the future, and regardless of ones wins or loses at the end of the day one chooses how to respond to life. The bottom line being that both on and off the course, one should always be humble and stay positive. His dedication to the pursuit of my dream of playing golf was never ending. My dad made sure I always had access to golf courses and the best equipment. That dedication to my game was a little self-defeating for his own golf game when at the age of 13 I asked what my Dad proudly would say were, “the seven best words in golf”… “how many strokes do you need dad?” After years of indulging my dreams to play golf competitively, I was proud of the day I could finally repay my dad’s dedication to my dreams by obtaining for him a round at one of his dream golf courses, Pebble Beach. While my dad kept his emotions in check on the golf course and at work, one could see them shine through in his love for music and singing. Most often witnessed in the car during road trips, I fondly remember my dad singing along to Kenny Rogers, Frank Sinatra, Elvis, Roy Orbison and Andrea Bocelli. If you were really lucky you could catch a glimpse of his singing skill at Karaoke bars where he would often be asked to give encores. His skill was so good we encouraged him to take it on the road after retirement. Whether it was reproducing the growl in “Pretty Women”, or hitting the high notes of “You Got It” and “Crying” one could easily be mistaken they were actually listening to Roy Orbison. My dad’s singing was forever immortalized when, for a holiday fundraiser, his co-workers produced and recorded a CD that included four songs sung by him, the most of all of the artists. My father was a dedicated, no non-sense, quick witted, crossword solving, optimistic golfing crooner, who always put his family first, and always got the project done. Perhaps my father’s life is best summed up by one of his best renditions, “My Way.” Because now the end is here, and he lived a life that was full. He had too few regrets to mention, and he did what he had to do, and he always saw it through… There were times he bit off more than he could chew, but he ate it up, and he always stood tall… He loved. He laughed and cried (at the birth of his children and grandchildren, and throughout their life accomplishments). He seldom had tears, as he could always find what was amusing. And to think (he wired nuclear bombs, built steel mills, and sung like Elvis); and he certainly did all that not in a shy way… And what has a man got, if not himself (his integrity and his family), than he has naught. He always said what he felt (and could do so in a sharp way), and never used the words of one who kneels. Let the record show (through his family and his labors), that my father did it… “myyyyy waaayyyyyyyyy.” Ronald Lee Nichols (Ron), 80, of Vancouver WA, passed away on February 4th, 2022 surrounded by his family and in the loving care of Ray Hickey Hospice House, Vancouver WA. Ron was born in Belmont Ohio to parents Freda and George Nichols on June 19th, 1941. Ron graduated from Point Pleasant High School, WV and went on to receive an Electrical Engineering degree from Marshall University, Huntington WV. Ron is survived by his wife, Linda Nichols, children Heather Nichols Sorenson and Jason Nichols, son-in-law Kai Sorenson, daughter-in-law Elizabeth Nichols, grandchildren Joshua and Gretchen Sorenson, brother James Nichols, nieces Anya and Heidi Nichols and nephews Tim and Greg Nichols. He was preceded in death by his mother Freda Nichols, father George Nichols, brother Gary Nichols and niece Michelle Nichols. Donations in tribute to Ron’s life may be made to The Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research where 88 cents of every dollar spent goes to research programs, www.michaeljfox.org/donate The family wishes to extend their gratitude to Ron and Linda’s angel neighbors Todd and Jackie, as well as all those who were involved in Ron’s care during the past year, made especially challenging due to stringent COVID protocols. The family is grateful to the caring and communicative nursing staff at Peach Health Vancouver in the face of extremely limited visitation while Ron was hospitalized, they were truly a blessing.
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